EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include a response from the LA County Sheriff's Department. (May 17, 2023)
Los Angeles County Inspector General Max Huntsmen sent letters to 35 sheriff’s deputies Friday directing them to identify members of the alleged Banditos and Executioners deputy gangs. Huntsman told Spectrum News 1 he believes the deputies are witnesses to deputy gang activity inside the LA County Sheriff’s Department and have sufficient evidence to overcome any legal challenge.
“I’m investigating law enforcement gangs,” Huntsman said in an email. “Their members may commit crimes, but the groups are also illegal independently of the criminal conduct.”
Sheriff Robert Luna re-established a relationship between Huntsman and the department after he unseated Sheriff Alex Villanueva in November. Luna campaigned on a platform to root out deputy gangs from the LASD.
“Sheriff Robert Luna and his office have remained in communication with the Office of Inspector General regarding its investigation, and are aware that the letters were distributed,” The LA County Sheriff’s Department said in a Tuesday email to Spectrum News.
"The Department supports any investigation that seeks to uncover wrongdoing, since all members of the Sheriff’s Department are expected to hold themselves to the highest ethical and professional standards. Department members who engage in misconduct or criminal activity will not be tolerated and will be held accountable.”
Deputies received text messages from their unions Monday, directing them to call the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Professional Association before responding to the letter.
“If you received this letter directing you to testify, please call LASDPA … immediately. We are currently negotiating with OIG regarding this issue,” the text message said.
A Special Counsel report release in March called deputy gangs a “cancer” inside LASD, detailing active deputy gangs inside the Compton, East LA, South LA and Lancaster stations. The report alleged tattooed groups run a shadow chain of command inside the stations.